I case you haven’t already seen or read the news: Google is now suggesting specific brands for certain searches (queries) by linking to refined queries. For instance, if you search for DVR you might see a list of links going to TiVO, Sony, etc… with each linking to search results for ['Brand' 'Query'].
This affects the typical ecommerce business in several ways:
- If you are a small operation ranking #1 for a non-brand query (eg: Truck Tires) you now have to worry about brand links showing above your result, which would probably show high-CTR brands like Goodyear. Sucks to be you. But on the other hand…
- If you are good enough to outrank the brand for the refined search (eg: outrank Goodyear’s website for Goodyear Truck Tires) then Bob’s your uncle.
- If you have your own brand, you should now REALLY be focusing your efforts on how you might get that brand associated with as many relevant searches as possible. So if you make alarm clocks then your goal is to have your brand show up as one of those nifty links when someone searches for “alarm clocks”.
The good news is that I can think of several ways for you to gain from the above implications. Although we can’t know for sure at this point what factors Google is looking at to determine which brands show up as links for any given query, or even which queries should have brand suggestion links in the first place – we can make certain assumptions based on previous Google changes and ranking factors that are apparent elsewhere in the SERPS. I’ll give you a few simple ideas below…
Start by getting a list of all brands sold on your website. If you ARE a brand and don’t sell other people’s products, you should instead get a list of all brands that sell similar products. Both lists will come in handy when doing the following:
- Do a contest giveaway for brand x. For instance, you could give-away an “Acme Blue Widget” and make sure the blog links back to your site with that exact text.
- Create a product-group called “Brands” with subcategories for each of the brands, or incorporate “brands” into your taxonomy. Here’s an example: Amazon.com’s Brand Page
- Post blog entries about certain brands that you carry, like “Why Choose Acme Blue Widgets” or “An Interview with Acme Founder Steve Smith”
- For brands that you DON’T carry, do comparisons with that brand Vs brands that you DO carry like “Acme Widgets Vs. Nike Widgets: Which Is The Widgetiest?”.
- Put “brand” links in your footer navigation or somewhere that search engines can easily find. A good example of this can be found a little over half-way down this page on Sears.com (just below the fold on my screen).
- Get YOUR brand associated with more searches. I don’t know “exactly” how to game leverage this yet, but as more SEOs run tests (no doubt the affiliate spammers will figure it out first) we’ll begin to get an idea of how to do this.
Two obvious ideas – one for the whites and one for the grays:
- Hire searchers usability testers (anyone try Mechanical Turk for this?) to choose from a list of searches (each one a pair of searches) with instructions such as:
Go to Google and search for “keyword”. Write one sentence about whether you think those results meet your needs. Now do a search for “Our Brand Keyword” and tell us if you think this search result is better or worse.
- Obtain more links into your site with the brand + keyword combo you’re looking for.